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Full text of "The critical condition of the country : remarks of the Hon. Warren Winslow of North Carolina, in the House of Representatives, January 29, 1861, upon the report of the Committee of the States"

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or THE 



In the House of Representatives, January 29, 1861, 





R E M A. Tl K S 



Upon the Report of the Committee of the States. 

Tiie House having under coiisidt.'ralion the report from the select cominitlce of Ihirly-thrfc — 

Mr. WINSLOW said : 

Mr. Speaker: When I took service upon the committee of ilie States, to which 
position you had iiindiy assigned me, I confess I did so with but sliglit hope that its 
efforts would avail to the restoration of peace and concord among our |.eo,ile. 

I had said, in my place in the Thirty-Fourth Congress, looking at the then exist- 
ing condition of things, and painfully apprehensive of the very consequences that 
now threaten the country, that touching what I deemed the wrongs to my section, I 
would ibrbear until forbearance itself would even seem to cease to be a virtue, and 
that if the crisis should come, I would endeavor to discharge my duty to the whole 
country, and especially to that section where ray fortunes had fallen and where ray 
destinies were fixed. 

In redemption of that pledge, I set out with the determination that I would exert 
all my power to effect such suitable settlements that the Union might be preserved, 
harmony restored, our institutions strengthened and perpetuated, and the slaveholding 
States reconciled to the continuance of a Union which was fast loosing its hold 
upon their affections. 

I was not indifferent to the Union of these States; nay, to preserve it was, with 
me, a labor of love. But, in ray judgment, no patched-up compromise, no allevia- 
ting and palliating remedy was either just or prudent; nor did I subscribe to the dog- 
ma of its preservation at all hazards. A Union which did not effectually provide 
for the common defense and the general welfare, which did not establish peace and 
secure domestic tranquillity, I would have none of. 

I have nothing with which to reproach myself; nothing with which to reproach 
my State, as to fomenting the agitation of the slavery question, either in its inception 
or in its continuance. Reluctant, originally, to enter into this confederation with 
you — from the fears of her statesmen as to its consequences, which have sadly been 
realized — when she did come, she came with loyal purposes to adhere to her obliga- 
tions ; and true as the steel embosomed in her own lofty mountains, she has perfotiuod 
those duties with admitted fidelity. She will take, in this crisis, the course whioh 
her honor and her intere^t and lier obligations to other States justify; and if she 
leaves you now, it will be with no spasmodic passion, but with that coolness, delay? 
and deliberation — her national characteristics — which have, with flippant witlings' 
been mistaken for apathy and insensibility. She will tell you, ere she goes; like 
the serpent that emblazoned her colonial flag, she will warn you ere she strikes. 

During my service in Congress, now rapidly drawing to the close of a third term, 
I have never addressed you — no colleague of" mine has ever addressed you — on the 
exciting subject of slavery. Perfectly satisfied ourselves with the morality of 
slavery, its lawlulness and expediency, regarding it in no light whatever as a moral, 
social, or political evil; looking upon it as, if not an essential, at least a desirable 
feature in a Government founded upon universal suffrage, we needed no discussion 
to confirm our judgment or our opinions; nor were we disposed to become pro- 
pagandists of that or any other system among our neighbors. We looked upon our- 
selves as trustees, under a higher power; into our hands, certainly by no direct 
agency of ours, had been confided the care and nurture and Christianizing of a 
heathen and an improvident race, fitted only for compulsory labor; we had no right 
to thrust from us that charge, or to cry craven and refuse its administration. How 
we have performed that duty, their vast increase in number — an increase which, 
according to the well-known laws which govern population, incontestably proves 
them to have been well fed, v/ell clothed, humanely worked, and well cared for — 
sufficiently testifies. 

Your lathers violently tore them from their native homes, the bush and the lagunes 
of that inhospitable clime upon whose soil the sun never ceases to pour down his 
direct and burning rays, and transferred them, for a pecuniary consideration, to our 
fathers. We have nurtured and cared for them. We found them idolaters; we 
taught them the benign religion of the meek and lowly peasant of Palestine. We 
have so ameliorated their condition that no laboring population of any part of the 
world compares with them in point of comfort. They have alike shared our good 
and adverse fortunes. When Providence smiled upon us, and wealth accumulated, 
they have partaken of its benefits, and in periods of distress they have cheerfully 
submitted to like sacrifices as ourselves. You have been participants in the fruit of 
tljeir labors. It drives the looms of Lowell, and establishes the manufactures of 
Lynn and Natick. It furnishes the cargoes of your shipping, and supports your 
trade in all parts of the seas. Gradually, as they were elevated in intellect, our law 
has been modified, and moderated in its relations towards them, and its broad shield 
has been thrown before them for their protection. If their privileges have been at 
any time curtailed, that has been the consequence of your own mad fanaticism, 
which sought with a false and sickly philanthropy to interfere with institutions about 
which you knew nothing, and would inquire into, from no higher sources than the 
catch-penny productions of renegades from our country, who sought to play upon 
your prejudices, to their own aggrandizements. The miserable vipers who drew 
their existence from our soil, and sought to sting their benefactors, you took instantly 
to your bosom, fotgetting that the wretch who was false to the land of his birth 
could never be true to that of his adoption. Or if you advanced a step further, for 
higher sources, you found them in the sentimental productions of your strong-minded 
women, who, rashly abandoning the proper sphere of their sex, and rudely seizing 
the habiliments of the other, undertook to instruct their superiors in matters of polity 
and economy. 

We cared not then, at any time, to open that subject before you; though we felt 
conscious, and so repeatedly warned you, that your interference with our rights; 
your denial of our constitutional privileges; your offensive assaults upon us; your 
failure to respond to your constitutional obligations; your assertion of the doctrines 
of a higher law and an irrepressible conflict ; the wicked and inflammatory appeals 
to your passions l^y your leaders; your provocation to our slaves to rebel against us; 

your approbation of the armed foray in the State of Virginia; your denial of our 
equality in the Territories ; your threats to reorganize the supreme judicial tribunal, 
so as to meet your views and opinions; your declared purpose to interfere with the 
future status of our peculiar institution, as foreshadowed by the repeated declarations 
of the great Corypheus of your party, who, if report speaks truly, is to shape for the 
next four years its policy, would finally result in disruption of the Union. You 
would not heed us. One by one the ligaments of the Union have been snapping 
asunder; but you turned a deaf ear to the ominous sounds. One by one those sym- 
pathies and attachments which sprang from the remembrance of past trials and 
common sorrows and sufferings, from the recollection of past glories and triumphs, 
have fallen off and been forgotten, like the leaves of tht oak in your forest resigning 
themselves to the winds of Heaven; but you failed to see it. Having eyes you 
would not see, and having ears you would not hear. 

At last your efforts culminated to a point beyond toleration. By your denial to us 
of equality in the Territories, you souglit to reduce us to tlie condition of a degraded 
people ; and presenting before the country a ticket strictly sectional, availing your- 
selves of unhappy differences, you succeeded in establishing an Administration, a 
submission to which, without further guarantees, would leave us a conquered people, 
under foreign domination. 

You threatened us with constitutional modes by which you could, and hereafter 
meant to, extinguish slavery — a system which had in the mean time become so in- 
terlocked and interwoven with our institutions that the destruction of the parasite 
would be death to the tree it clings to. 

It was in vain to say that the ends and aims of the Republican party were directed 
to the overthrow of the great Democratic party, which had so long wielded the power 
of the Government. You were tendered, by the other great party opposed to you, 
a ticket headed by constitutional statesmen, in whose patriotism you professed con- 
fidence. Amid all this, we asked for nothing, no concession, but our rights : " The 
Constitution and the equality of the States ;" the symbols of everlasting union. 

The lime had come when we were called upon to speak right out, and in view of 
threatened dangers to provide new guards for our future security. 

Under these circumstances it was we met you at the assembling of the Congress ; 
under these circumstances that a member from Virginia took the initiative in propo- 
sing a peace conference, and that touthern members consented to meet you in a 
committee of the States, to take counsel together of the common perils and the ap- 
propriate remedies. You may judge of our astonishment when, at the very first day 
of the meeting of that committee, silence was broken by a northern member, repre- 
senting a large and populous district, with professions of utter ignorance of the ex- 
istence of any causes of complaint, and with the mild request that southern gentle- 
men would be kind enough to furnish a bill of particulars. 

JNIeeting that committee in a spirit of frankness, determined to speak right out on 
the difficult questions which embarrassed the country, we could not but be astonished 
at what we looked upon as a species of diplomacy out of place, in bad taste, and ill- 
suited to the momentous occasion. 

It did not at all provoke a like conduct on our part ; but at once declaring that we 
looked upon the territorial policy as the question of perplexity, and that, if that were 
properly adjusted, we thought that minor matters would arrange themselves, we pro- 
posed, through the member from Arkansas, a proposition of adjustment which, 
while a large concession on our part, was one the North miglit accede to with honor, 
and the pride of ail sections be saved. 


It was gratifying to find that the venerable and distinguished Senator from Ken- 
tucky had, in the scries of resolutions offered by him in the Senate, fallen upon the 
same plan of adjustment. It was especially gratifying to find that the sentiment of 
the whole country rapidly concentrated upon it. It was proposed in committee on 
the 10th day of December. Althougli we pressed a vote upon it; although we urged 
the rapid approximation of tiie crisis upon the country, and declared that the anxiety 
and solicitude of our constituents were great and urgent, and that, for many reasons, 
it was desirable to have upon it speedy action, for some cause or other — I will not 
say pretext or pretense — day after day dragged its weary length along, the lime of 
tiie committee, precious as it was, was consumed in the discussion of abstract propo- 
sitions, or in the arrangement of another matter, about which there was no insuper- 
able difl'erence of opinion. It was not until the 27th day of December, that a vote 
was forced upon it, resulting in the negativing of the proposition by the unanimous 
voices of the Republican members. 

Sir, we deemed this a great concession of our legal and constitutional rights. 
Under the decision of the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott case, we were as>ured 
of our right to take our slaves into all of the common territory of the States. We 
proposed to surrender that right above the parallel of 36° 30', by an absolute con- 
stitutional prohibition, reserving only protection to our property below — such pio- 
tection as would be afforded to yours, and that, too, in a section in which you 
yourselves thought the institution of slavery could never obtain a permanent footing. 
You say this was no concession, for that slavery, by the lawof nature and of climatej 
oould never exist above that parallel. Be it so. Why, then, refuse a concession, if 
you choose so to call it, or if v/e choose so to call it, that could never, according to 
your own declared opinions, contribute to that state of things which you so much 
deprecate — the extension of the area of slavery. Would you refuse to heal the 
wounds from which the body-politic now suffers? Would you refuse to maintain 
the Union, to which you sing daily peans ? Would you refuse to your brethren of 
the South, mad, insane, and excited as you deem them, the poor pittance of an ab- 
straction which might soothe them into quiet? Not so. You are eminently a 
practical people. The cause lies deeper than that. 

On the other hand, you say slavery can never go to New Mexico, and that we 
stand upon an abstraction. But consider. We maintain our right to carry our 
slaves there. It is a fancied or real right. If the former, you admit it can do you 
no harm ; cannot affect your policy or effect ours. If real, then the deprivation of 
it is to us a great wrong ; and, according to our notions, the surrender of it on our 
part, and the prohibition of it upon yours, would reduce us to the condition of a 
degraded people, and work a forfeiture of our own self-respect. Nay, to make this 
proposition less distasteful to you, we consulted your prejudices, and proposed to 
clothe the amendment to the Constitution in the language that the instrument now 
uses. This view of it was forcibly pressed upon you by the distinguished gentle- 
man from Virginia, but without avail. It shared the like fate with the original 

I may add, Mr. Speaker, before passing away from the subject of the action of 
the committee, that, failing in the proposition of Mr. Rust, and successively in 
those of the patriotic member from Tennessee [Mr. Nelson] and of Mr. Critten- 
den, all the southern members, with a single exception, sustained the movement of 
the member from California [Mr. Burch] for calling a convention of the States. It 
met no favor from the Republican members ; but on the other hand, after an incu- 
bation of some six weeks, the consultations of the committee ushered into ex'sf^nce 


this miserable abortion which you are now considering. I may safely say that per- 
haps no single proposition received the majority vote of the committee ; and, strange 
to say, a motion to recommend the series to the House for adoption signally failed. 
Upon the whole, when these proceedings come to be reviewed hereafter, it will be 
pronounced that every fair, liberal, and enlarged concession had been tendered by 
southern Representatives, not one of which was met in a corresponding spirit of 

The Republican members declared their settled purpose to refuse any adjustment 
of this question by constitutional amendment, and some wonder was expressed at 
our persistence in demanding that mode. Could we do otherwise, when we remem- 
bered that the Drcd Scott decision was held not to be law by you 1 And that from 
high quarters, there had been announced in high places the determination to seize 
available opportunities to reorganize the Supreme Court, so as to secure a reversal 
of its judgments and restrictions. Besides our constituents demanded, and rightly 
demanded, a settlement, final, forever, and irreversible, of this vexed question ; one 
that would remove it from the halls of this Capitol, and from the political arena, to 
the end that peace hereafter might reign within our borders. 

To the objection urged, that the resolutions of amendment professed to cover not 
only the present, but all future acquisitions, it was oflfered on our part to accompany 
it with the prohibition of any future acquisition, ualess by treaty confirmed by a 
two-thirds vote in both Houses of Congress. As the northern section of the Union 
has in both branches a decided and rapidly increasing preponderancy, that subject 
necessarily, for all time, would be under your control. 

But you proposed the erection of all the territory into two States. Without 
stopping to show that as an original proposition, totally disconnected with the politi- 
cal question, expediency and justice to the great States should forbid the introduction 
of a new State with a population of ninety-two thousand, and an area of more than 
three hundred thousand square miles, its inhabitants generally ignorant of our laws 
and our language, upon an equal footing with them, it is sufficient to say that the 
proposition, in the opinion of a majority of the southern members, was wholly inad- 
missible. There are about a score of slaves in New Mexico. You had no assurance 
that she would make a constitution recognizing slavery, much less could you impose 
such constitution upon her. You called upon us to surrender our right to the whole 
of the Territories, upon the barren condition of permitting, by a fresh enactment, 
New Mexico to do that which, by her organic law, you already assured to her ; and 
the security to us for the concession we were called upon to make, was the bare 
possibility that she might, by her constitution, permit that to be done, against which 
you declared nature and climate and soil and circumstances had pronounced. 

Believing the question of equality in the Territories — in other words, the recogni- 
tion of the right of property in slaves — to be the question at issue, we declared that 
other matters, in our judgment, would regulate themselves when peace and harmony 
should be restored among us. The personal liberty bills were offensive to us in a 
degree, from the consideration of the causes which had prompted their enactment. 
Perhaps really they had inflicted no very great amount of injustice; but we felt 
them more poignantly from the reflection that they were intended as evidences of 
temper and resentment. Even little Vermont — away up in the hyperborean regions 
of the North, where an African was scarcely ever seen save the few that strayed 
thither in the summer, as certain of your poets had said, 

" Like the sweet soutli, stealing and giving odor"— 


had thought proper to take measures to prevent our kidnapping her free citizens into 

You deny us the right of transit and temporary sojourn with our slaves in all your 
territory, save in New Jersey — that people who, while ever ready to maintain their 
own right!?, are so generously forbearing of the rights of others, and who are justly 
entitled, and ever receive, the respect and veneration of their southern kindred. 

These things are all irritating. They spring from the one idea, hostility to slavery 
and indicate, what I solemnly believe, a settled purpose ultimately to extinguish our 
institutions. I do not charge you with any intention to interfere with slavery in 
the States directly. You dare not do it. You dare not. I do not, Mr. Speaker, 
mean this in the way of threat or menace to the North. 

I have no idea that that great people, for indeed they are a great people, could be 
frightened from their propriety by any such base sentiments as fear; and if they 
could, I would scorn to extort from their fears what 1 had a right to expect from 
their sense of justice. But they dare not do it; lor such an interference would be 
an overt act, and unite our people in resistance, and disrupt the Union. I cannot 
call to mind that I have ever heard an intelligent roan in my State express the opin- 
ion that you meditated such direct interference. But there is a future to us ; and 
that future we would look to and provide for. You look upon slavery as a great 
evil ; you will continue to war upon it so long as it remains a political element ; and 
it will so remain so long as you deny to us equality in the Territories, Settle this 
question now, fully, finally, forever. 

I am free to say, for my part, that I deem this concession, this proposed amend- 
ment as to the Territories, ihe ultimatum of a settlement. In honor, the South can 
take no less. Arrange that, and peace may possibly come to our country. I know not, 
indeed, if it be possible, under any terms, to win back the seceding States. But let 
us do justice and perform right, and trust the consequences. Secure to us the Con- 
stitution and the equality of the States. These are the symbols of everlasting 
Union. Gentlemen of the North, in view of the dangers wiiich threaten our yet 
common country, can you rise to the height of this great argument? If you can, 
now is the accepted time come with us to the altar of our common country, and let 
us make there our common sacrifices. 

The gentleman from Massachusetts, [Mr. AdaiMs,] for whom I need hardly say I 
have sincere respect, made a proposition which he supposed to be a very great conces- 
sion ; and coming from that quarter, I look so upon it, indeed. He proposed to 
amend the Constitution >i0 that no convention hereafter called shall have the priv- 
ilege of abolishing slavery in the States unless by unanimous consent. I repeat here 
what I have already said — I never yet met with an intelligent man in my State who 
tliought for a moment that the views and purposes of the Republican party were to 
interfere with slavery directly in the States. We hold that you have no power, un- 
der the Constitution as it now stands, to abolish slavery. We will never yield to 
any such construction ; and to vote for that proposition as a single one, disconnected 
with some real concession, would be to admit of a doubt on that point. Taken in 
connection with the original propositions of my friend from Arkansas, and those of 
the Senator from Kentucky, I am ready to acknowledge that we should take it as a 
grateful oti'ering from our brethren of the North. 

I do not make the complaint in regard to the enforcement of the fugitive slave law, 
which has been made by many gentlemen from the extreme South. I am iree to 
iulmit that, perhaps in nineteen out of twenty cases, it has been fully and fairly 


administered. But it is also true, that for every slave who has been rendered back 
to us under that law, twenty have escaped from bondage, and have not been returned? 
Nor do I complain of your State governments for the non-execution of the law. I 
grant that no Government on earth can execute a law against the wishes of its peo- 
ple. Your people, from the continued excitement which has taken place on the 
subject of slavery, have come to entertain the desire for its extinguishment, and that 
it shall be abolished wherever they have the power to abolish it. I grant that they 
would not resist the enforcement of the law; they would not do it, because such 
disturbances cost large sums of money. But, sir, you are under constitutional obli- 
gations to return our slaves to us when they leave our country and take refuge in 
yours; you know it; you cannot deny it. Your abolition orators, your pulpits, 
your forums, and your strongminded women, have been urgent to induce you, for 
year after year, to resist these constitutional obligations ; and it is through their 
efforts that you have placed these unconstitutional laws upon your statute-books. 
They stand there, monuments of a faith worse than Punic, among northern men, 
When I use that expression, I refer to the class of men who predominate there. I 
know that you have other men, patriotic and true. When I look before me and 
behind me, or on either side, here in my place in this House, I see gallant sons of the 
North, who have stood up and battled, not for our rights, but the rights of the Con- 
stitution. If we are to part from them, it will be to us a source of unfeigned regret. 
They have had a harder task in maintaining their position than we have had to 
perform. Ours has been the easy task to run with public opinion, while they have 
had to run adverse to it, and to stem fanaticism while they endured contumely. 
Around their memories shall cluster our richest affections. We shall always remem- 
ber them with grateful feelings. 

Now, sir, upon these great questions at issue betw'een the North and the South, 
posterity will have to judge. We shall all of us have to submit to the tribunal of 
time, a tribunal whose decrees are irreversible, because they are just. When men 
come to review these questions, after the lapse of long years, when passion has sub- 
sided and party spirit has passed away, they will look back with amazement at the 
madness and excitement that rules the hour. Sir, posterity will do us of the South 
justice. Have we had no cause to complain? We are here thirty-three States, 
which everybody admits to be sovereign ; and I ask whether, as sovereign States, 
confederated with you, we have not the right to demand at least the security which 
is awarded to foreign nations ? But have we received it ? I will simply refer to 
two or three among numerous instances, directly in point : An embassador of the 
United States, accredited to a foreign nation, is in the city of Washin<Tton. In 
order to reach the armed vessel which is to carry him to the court to which he is ac- 
credited, he necessarily has to pass through the great State of Pennsylvania. Du- 
ring his transit across that State, his slaves, held as property under the laws of his 
own State, are rudely and forcibly seized. The Federal judge, an honest judge 
whose name will always occupy an honorable position in the records of his country 
desired to do ample justice and repair the wrong, was himself sued in the courts of 
Pennsylvania, by the very individual who stole the slaves. The slaves were not re- 
turned, and yet the great State of Pennsylvania has never, by any legislative act 
deplored this transaction, much less has attempted reparation. 

A gentleman from Virginia on his way to a distant portion of the country, pass- 
ing through New York, while in transitu had his slaves seized and taken from him 
and to this day no redress has been made by that great State. 


An embassador of the United States in a distant country died, and his wife in 
bringing home his body to her native country, with a single domestic as a nurse for 
an infant child, with whose services she could iliy dispense, landed in New York, 
when her property was stolen from her, and she was left to return to her own State 
of Kentucky as she migiit. Kind reception to the bereaved matron, returning in sor- 
row to her native land ! Comity, indeed, from a confederated State ! 

Now, sir, if these things had occurred to American citizens in any other country, 
either instance would have been cause for war. 

Mr. HALE. As the gentleman has referred to a transaction which took place in 
the State of Pennsylvania, I beg leave to correct, in one or two points, the statement 
he has made. Judge Kane, alleging that Mr. Williamson had made an incomplete 
return to a writ of habeas corjms, imprisoned him ; after which, a suit was brought 
against Judge Kane for false imprisonment. It was a matter which had nothing 
whatever to do with the slave question. 

Mr. WIXSLOW. The gentleman has stated the facts correctly, and not mate- 
rially differed from my statement. 

Mr. JUNKIN. I ask the gentleman from North Carolina if he is not aware that the 
decision in that case was affirmed by the supreme court of the State of Pennsylvania. 

Mr. WINSLOW. I did not know the fact ; but it is one I am glad to hear. The 
principal point, however, to which I desired to call attention in that case was that 
the owner of the lost negro has never received a dollar of reparation to this day. 
Now, sir, if we had sent an embassador to France, and in passing through Great 
Britain his slave had been seized and retained, and Great Britain had refused to 
make reparation, why even you at the North, you gentlemen, to defend whose right 
to catch codfish away down on the banks of Newfoundland, for whose commercial 
privileges we went to war in 1812, would have considered this a matter sufficient to 
go to war upon with Great Britain. And for us, who are nations kindred to you 
in blood, when you refuse us what even the comity of foreign nations demands, can 
you, under these circumstances, expect us to remain in union with you ? 

Mr. CURTIS. I wish to ask the gentleman whether he supposes that a slave 
taken from here to Great Britain would be recognized as property, and if taken away 
restored to his owner? 

Mr. WINSLOW. I say to the gentleman that, if a minister was sent from the 
United States to France, and he had necessarily to pass through Great Britain on 
his way, whatever was recognized as property belonging to him under the laws of 
his country would be recognized by Great Britain under the laws of nations. It has 
been so recognized in numerous instances ; do you doubt it? 

Mr. CURTIS. I certainly do. The British courts go upon the principle that 
every man is free who touches the English soil and breathes the English air. 

Mr. WINSLOW. I repeat my proposition. If it were necessary for the minis- 
ter to France to pass through England in transitu, to Russia or Persia, or any other 
Power, the seizure of his property, no matter what, by the Government of Great 
Britain, would be a cas^^,s helH. It would be so considered by my friend from Iowa, 
or any other who entertains like political sentiments. 

Mr. SICKLES. If the gentleman from North Carolina will permit me, I will 
state the well-known fact that Mr. King, of Alabama, took two slaves with him when 
he went to Paris as the minister of the United States. Other instances have occur- 
red. I believe there is not a Governmrnt in Europe Avhlch would hesitate for an 
instant to protect, with all the necessary power, the property of any minister of the 


United States, or of any member of the legation. I have heard the question fre. 
quently discui^sed ; and the public law is admitted as it is stated by the gentleman 
flora North Carolina. 

Mr. TAYLOR. It is a part of the public law of nations ; and it extends so far, 
that a member of an embassy Irora Turkey to a Christian country i? protected in the 
enjoyment even of his right to a plurality of wives. [Laughter.] 

Mr. WINSLOW. That has been so held arguendo by the court of my own State — 
I mean with reference to the plurality of wives. 

Mr. CURTIS. I know the sacred character and the rights of a minister; but, 
sir, I know of no instance where a man who asserted his freedom upon English 
ground has failed to secure it. The gentleman has referred to the case of France. 

Mr. SICKLES. Let me make a suggestion to the gentleman from Iowa. It 
stands upon a principle; and that principle is this: that the sovereignty of a nation 
alv/ays covers and protects the legation of that nation, and every member of the 
legation. In contemplation of public law, the minister and his legation are always 
under the Hag of their nation. 

Mr. CURTIS. Of course I understand that. 

Mr. SICKLES. It is a violation of the flag and the laws and the comity of na- 
tions, to interfere with a member of an embassy. 

Mr. WINSLOW. Was there ever an embassy from Persia, or Turkey, or any 
other country in the world, to England, that was refused the exercise of the privi- 
leges and the use of such servants as they had at home? Never. To carry the doc- 
trine further, I will refer to the case of the Q,ueen of Denmark, who murdered a man 
in her own building in Paris, and who was not held to answer for the murder. 

Now, Mr. Speaker, let us see how we stand. The gentlemen on the other side 
deny that slavery exists except by force of municipal law. That, I believe, is the 
doctrine. Here are thirty-three States banded together; for what? For the com- 
mon benefit and the general welfare; to establish peace and domestic tranquility at 
home. The affirmation on that side of the House is that slavery exists only by force 
of municipal law. I so understand them. Suppose a vessel, going from my own 
port of Wilmington, North Carolina, to Charleston, South Carolina, with slaves 
amongst other cargo, is overhauled by a cruiser of the enemy ; suppose the English 
to be that enemy; and suppose our Government makes a remonstrance to the Eng- 
lish Government, and that government responds that "my officer did wrong, and I 
am willing to make reparation. I apologise for the insult, and I will pay for the 
eargo, except what was in slaves ; and as to them, I am informed there is a great 
party in your country calling itself the Republican party par excellence, and headed 
by a man named Abraham Lincoln, which party asserts that slaves are not prop- 
erty." If that refusal were made by the English government, what then would a 
Republican Congress do? Logically, could, or would they, insist upon reparation ? 
Can we stand that? Is not our property upon the high seas to be as much secured 
and protected by the country as your property? Yet, sir, by your doctrine, that 
slavery is only a local institution, having its origin only in the municipal law, we 
should be perfectly powerless, and without protection. Do you think we can stand 
a Union of that kind ? No, sir ; never ! never ! never ! Unless you come down from 
your doctrine, and agree that upon the high seas, wherever your star-spangled ban- 
ner waves, and if not in all the territory, at least south of the line fixed for the exten- 
sion of our institutions, our property shall have equal rights with yours, you ought 
not expect us to remain with you. 


History must judge us in other respects. I say .that the position of the Rupublican 
party threatens the rights of slavery. There have been in these Halls, five distinct 
plans pronounced by which slavery can be eradicated from the land. Mr. John 
duincy Adams himself affirmed, upon this floor, that Congress has the power to 
abolish slavery under the treaty-making power. That is one. Mr. Giddings, of Ohio, 
said : 

" I would not be understood as desiring a servile insurrection ; but I say to southern 
gentlemen, that there are hundreds of thousands of honest and patriotic men who 
'will laugh at your calamity, and will mock when your fear cometh.' 1 would in- 
timidate no man ; but I tell you there is a spirit in the North which will set at defi- 
ance all the low and unworthy machinations of this Executive, and the minions of 
its power. When the contest shall come; when the thunder shall roll, and the light- 
ning shall flash ; when the slave shall rise in the South ; when, in imitation of the 
Cuban bondmen, the southern slaves of the South shall feel that they are men ; when 
they feel the stirring emotions of immortality; when the slaves shall feel that, the 
masters shall turn pale and tremble ; when their dwellings shall smoke, the lovers of 
freedom shall stand forth and exert the legitimate powers of this Government for free- 
dom. We shall then have constitutional power to act for the good of our country,^ 
and do justice to the slave. Then we shall strike off" the shackles from the hands of 

the slaves. 

This plan was through insurrection, availing the General Government of the power 
of interference. 

Mr. Seward, if the reports of the day are to be believed, says that, in the settle- 
ment of this question, slavery is not to be regarded ; in other words, he draws back 
from his denunciations, and sinks his doctrine of an irrepressible conflict. 

He has also his peculiar plans. In his Rochester speech he declares, if reported 
correctly, and I am not aware of any contradiction of the popular version, what may 
be called the corrollary to his remarks at Lansing: 

" I will favor as long as I can, within the limits of constitutional action, the de- 
crease and diminution of African slavery in all the States."' 

At Rochester: 

"It is true that they [the fathers] necessarily and wisely modified this policy of 
freedom, by leaving it to the several States, affected as they v/ere by diff'erent cir- 
cumstances, to abolish slavery in their own way, and at their own pleasure, instead 
of confiding that duty to Congress." 

" But the very nature of these modifications fortifies my position that the fathers 
knew that the two systems could not endure within the Union, and expected that 
within a short period slavery would disappear forever. Moreover, in order that these 
modifications might not altogether defeat their grand design of a republic maintain- 
ing universal equality, they provided that two-thirds of the States might amend the 

But even for him there is still a lower deep. 

In his Lansing speech he is reported as having said that it was his "duty as a pa- 
triot " to go for having " no Army and Navy " of the Union, because their " whole 
object " was " that slaves may not escape from the slave States into the free, and that 
freed or emancipated negroes in the free States may not enter and introduce civil war 
into the slave States, and because that, if we provoke a foreign enemy, the southern 
frontier is exposed to invasion from England, France, and Spain." Here is an invo- 
cation of the war-making power. 

It remained for the President elect to cap the climax by presenting a fifth mode 
' reaching, in assumption of power by the General Goverunient, far beyond the mosr 


dreamy conception of the most ultra disciple of the latiiudinarian school. He speaks 
of" the further spread of slavery," the restrictions of which will, he predicts, " place 
it where the public mind will rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate ex- 
tinction." " We know," says he, " the opening of new countries tends to the per- 
petuation of the institution, and so does keep men in slavery who would otherwise 
be free." " Nothing," he again says, " will make you successful, but setting up a 
policy which shall treat the thing as wrong." "This Government is expressly 
charged with the duty of providing for the general welfare. We believe that the 
spreading out and perpetuity of the institution of slavery impairs the general welfare." 
" To repress tliis thing, we think, is providing for the general welfare." 

Now, will any unprejudiced mind fail to concede that here exist causes of alarm ; 
that prudence, indeed, would dictate demands for new guards for our future security, 
and that if these are refused, if every effort to secure them is exhausted, if the cool, 
unimpassioned judgment of the North should refuse us reparation, we should be jus- 
tified in the ultimate measure — secession. Let us listen to a voice from your own 
section, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Fillmore said : 

" We see a political party presenting candidates for the Presidency and Vice-Presi- 
dency selected, for the first time, from the free States alone, with the avowed pur- 
pose of electing these candidates by the suflfiages of one part of the Union only, to 
rule over the whole United States. Can it be possible that those who are engaged 
in such a measure can have seriously reflected upon the consequences which must 
inevitably follow in case of success? Can they have the madness or the folly to 
believe that our southern brethren would submit to be governed by such a Chief 
Magistrate ? 

"Suppose that the South, having a majority of the electoral vote, should declare 
that they would have only slaveholders for President and Vice-President, and should 
elect such by their exclusive suffrage to rule over us at the North: do you think you 
would submit to it ? No ; not for a moment. And do you believe that your southern 
brethren are less sensitive on this subject than you are ; or less jealous of their rights '? 
If you do, let me tell you that you are mistaken; and therefore you must see that if 
this sectional party succeeds, it leads inevitably to the destruction of this beautii^ul 
fabric, reared by our forefathers." ********* 

" I tell you we are treading on the brink of a volcano, that is liable, at any moment, 
to burst forth and overwhelm the nation." 

It will be seen, sir, that Mr. Fillmore, whose career as the Chief Executive of 
these States had given large opportunities to sound the depths of public opinion, to 
ascertain the temper and dispositions of the southern people, and whose opinions 
from these causes, as well as from his admitted intellect, prudence, and patriotism, 
were entitled to great weight, took care, at an early day, solemnly to warn his own 
people of the consequences likely to flow from their acts. He declares that the 
election of such a ticket would cause the South to resist. He declares such a resist- 
ance would be natural, and argues it would be justifiable. Nay, he goes further, 
and asserts boldly that, mutatis Mutandis, the North would do that very thing the 
doing of which calls down upon the heads of the southern people the anathemas of 
the North, eager to brand a generous and impulsive people, with the terms of re- 
proach, so fiippantly indulged in, of rebels and traitors. There was a time when 
Warren and Hancock and Adams and Gluincy were branded as traitors, and when 
North Carolina and South Carolina, themselves unoppressed, without cause of com- 
plaint against the parent Government, drew their swords and leaped to the defence 
of their sister. 

I have neither time nor inclination to discuss this much mooted point of seces- 
sion. My opinions upon it are embraced in a letter from Macon, the good, my own 


countryman, written more than twenty-five years ago, which I take liberty of in- 
corporating in my remarks: 

"Buck Spring, February 9, 1833. 

"Sir: I have received your letter of the 24th ultimo. There can be no doubt 
that the United States are in a deplorable situation, and that the publication ot" the 
opinion you desire would be useless. It has never been a secret, and always stated 
to those who wanted to know it. In the year 1824, the Constitution was buried in 
the Senate — the Seaators who were then present will, it is believed, recollect the 
fact — and never afterwards quoted by me while I remained in the Senate. The 
opinions of General Washington, Mr. Jefferson, and Governor Clinton are known, 
but not respected. I have never believed thata State could nuUifyand remain in the 
Union ; hull have always believed that a State raifflit secede ■when she ^^/easerf, provided 
that siie would pay her proportion of the public debt ; and this right I have consid- 
ered the best guard to public liberty and to public justice that could be desired, and it 
ought to have prevented what is now felt in the South — oppression. 

" Tiie proclamation contains principles as contrary to what was the Constitution as 
nullification. It is the great error of the Administration ; wiiich, except that, has 
been satisfactory in a high degree to the people who elected the President. 

" When confederacies begin to fight, liberty is soon lost, and the Government as 
soon changed. A Government of opinion, established by sovereign States for 
special purposes, cannot be maintained by force. The use of force makes enemies, 
and enemies cannot live in peace under such a Government. 

" The case of Soutli Carolina is as different I'roin that of Pennsylvania as any two 
cases can be. In 1816, I he system which now oppresses the South was begun. It 
was then opposed. In 1824 the Constitution was buried. Senators who were then 
in tne Senate will no doubt recollect. (Repetition — old age will tell.) Time to 

" Yours very truly, 


" Hon. Samuel P. Carson." 

With six of the States it is an accomplished fact; and it would more avail to 
endeavor to render its further progress unnecessary, than to engage in nice discussion 
as to its nature and effect. 

But you, as the great remedy, suggest coercion. Coercion ! Can you for a minute 
suppose you can force upon the South a foreign domination ? Do you think twelve 
million people, should they think fit to assert their independence, can be forced to 
pay tribute to you, or any other earthly power? You mistake the temper and the 
character of our people. Sir, history is said to be philosophy teaching by example. 
Have you read the story of the struggles of our fathers ? Have you not heard how 
an obstinate Prince and an infatuated minister lost to England the priceless gem with 
which her diadem was studded ? 

Pass back to the times of the great Revolution. I would I had time to quote at 
length the able, common-sense view of this question of coercion, as expounded by the 
enlightened Cruger, in 1774, in the British Parliament — a man who, I am proud to 
say, drew his existence from the soil of Massachusetts. I have time to quote but a 
single paragraph : 

" The expediency of coercive measures is much insisted upon by some, who, I am 
sorry to say, seem to consider more the distress and difficulty into which they may 
involve the South, than the benefit they can procure from such vindictive conduct, 
in this countrv. Humanity, however, will prompt the generous mind to weep over 
severities even when they are necessary. And the prudent statesman will reflect 
that the South cannot suffer without injury to the North. They are your customers; 
they consume your manufactures; and by disturbing them, if you do not drive them 
out to foreign markets, you will at least disable them from taking your commodities, 
and from making you adequate returns for what they have taken." 


But suppose you pushed your coercion lo subjugation ; suppose your arms to have 
triumphed; — what then? Hear, upon that point, the words of wisdom which fell 
from the lips of the patriot Jackson, in his Farewell Address to our people: 

'' If such a struggle is once begun, and tlie citizens of one section of the country 
arrayed in arms against those of another in doubtful conflict, let the battle result as 
it may, there willbe an end of the Union, and with it an end of the hopes of free- 
dom. 'The victory of the injured would not secure to them the blessings of liberty ; 
it would aveno^e their wrongs, but they themselves would share in the common 


I cite these remarks to show the opinion of a great mind as to the probability of a 
reconstruction of the Union if blood be shed in conflict. It was natural that this 
great man, the very pulsation of whose heart was for his country, and his whole 
country, should have taken a strong and gloomy view of the condition of things 
beyond a disruption, and that especially upon the occasion which led him to address 
the country. 

Sir, if blood be unjustly shed in this quarrel, believe me, all hope of reconciliation 
is gone. 

This Union, after such catastrophe, can never be reconstructed, Like one of those 
beautiful vases from Etruria, which has descended to us from remote antiquity, once 
broken into fragments, all the craft of the potter cannot restore it to its pristine 
integrity. No, sir ; this Union cannot be held together by force — by any other 
cohesion than that of affection. Do not rely in such contest upon your admitted 
superiority in wealth and population. 

But you will bave to come to invade us upon our soil. Perhaps, it has been said, 
no instance is to be found in the civilized world where a nation was conquered at its 
own door, unless betrayed by traitors at home, or by their own abject submission. 
The southern States have not reached either of these points. You may come 
among us with the star-spangled banner of our once happy Union, around which 
gather rich recollections ; but no piece of bunting, star-and-slripe it all over as you 
may, can make us untrue to the home of our birth and affection. Let there be no 
strife between us, I pray you. But if you persist in it, come on. Aut cita mors, aut 
lata victoria. 

Mr. Speaker, let me say a word for South Carolina. Her people are our Kindred 
in blood, and bear the same honored name which we do. She is without represen- 
tation on this floor, or in the Senate; and I cannot suffer to pass over the unkind 
reflections upon her, the studied misrepresentation of all her acts and doings, without 
a word in her defense. It is easy to accuse our neighbor of acts done under excite- 
ment. The charitable mind would indeed search for excuse and apology for rash 
conduct on the part of friends. You accuse her of precipitancy. The wrongs she 
has suffered, in common with her sisters, I have endeavored to portray to you 
Posterity must judge. 

You accuse her of perfidy in seizing the forts in her harbor. Massachusetts re. 
volted during the war of 1812. She sent embassadors here to treat of partition. 
She declared the annexation of Texas cause of dissolution ; and in 1837, because the 
Government thought proper to collect the postages in change, she in solemn meeting 
debated, in Faneuil Hall, resolutions of resistance, peaceably if she could, forcibly if 
necessary—resistance at all hazards. The papers of the day treat the excitement as 
fearful, threatening revolution. Indeed, Mr. Abbot Lawrence declared that possibly 
in a week the crew might have to rise and forcibly seize the ship. But this was in 
loyal Massachusetts, not in rebellious South Carolina. 


Now, let me reverse the case. Suppose a party came into existence upon a plat- 
forni something like the Chicago })laiforra, Avhich, instead of repressing slavery in 
any State, should impose it upon certain others. Suppose that party had triumphed 
bad elected its President, and had a prospective possession of the Senate and of the 
House; and suppose its forts, which command the city of Boston, were to be rein- 
forced and garrisoned by mercenary soldiers, whose intention was to overawe the 
State of Massachusetts, how long a time do you think would elapse before the people 
of Massachusetts would take possession and garrison tliose forts ? Before you could 
walk over the Long Bridge they would take those forts ; and they would do rio-ht 
If they did not, they would be unworthy of the name of those who threw the tea 
overboard in Boston harbor, in the days of the Revolution. Let me say thus much 
in behalf of South Carolina — a State which has illustrated your political history, and 
given to you great statesmen, "immortal names which were not born to die," and 
which has on the field of arms, when the national honor was to be vindicated, poured 
out her blood like water. 

I ask you to take warning from the events which are rapidly occurring. I ac- 
knowledge myself anxious to save the Union. I do not know that it can be saved- 
Perhaps it cannot be. The probabilities are that it cannot be, in its former integri- 
ty. If it can be, it is only by securing the border States to you, and availing your- 
self of their influence and their example upon the Gulf States. I know that the 
apprehensive faculties of the North have scarcely been awakened to the real condi- 
tion of things. 

But, look around you and observe these vacant seats. From the fretted roof which 
adorns this hall, are suspended the shields of the seceding States. There are glassed 
their emblems and their ensigns. I see the green palmetto of South Carolina, but 
under its shadow sits no son of hers. I see the Georgian temple of liberty, but no 
son of hers guards its sacred jwrtals. Do not push us too far. Do not flatter your- 
selves that we shall succumb from weakness. Much as I might value the honorable 
maintenance of the Union, I have no fears for a southern confederacy. The tem- 
pest may indeed howl, and the red lightning glare ; there may be strife and commo- 
tion in the political element, occasionally, dark clouds may overcast the political 
heavens, but in the intervals of succession shall brightly burn those fifteen stars 
which form the Southern constellation, signs and tokens forever.